Larry Levis

This reblog is for all you poets out there who may have experienced a similar reaction to some of your poetry when you tried to force it. Enjoy.

The Vale of Soul-Making

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried to give it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the light

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

—  Larry Levis, from “The Poem You Asked For.” Wrecking Crew: Poems. (Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt); y First edition May 1972)

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21 thoughts on “Larry Levis

  1. We come from dreams ~

    “Forcing” a poem is definitely a case of trying to get de square peg into de round hole. I have one somewhere which I kept because as far as rhythm, scanning and all that go, it’s perfect. But by the fifth line you just KNOW that it has no “soul”, and I use that word as it was intended by the old blues and jazz musicians.
    ~ Roy

  2. intrudesite

    It shows that poem takes nourishment from a real feeling . There are times you feel too intensely hence you can not word it immediately , in spite of all the practice, poets are very emotional creatures , so you have to give it time. It takes a minimum of two years of a particular pain to word it as poetry. Old hurts get worded more easily .

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Nothing’s wrong with you Charly, and some of your poetry is very deep, but presented in a humorous context, kind of like a political cartoonist/satirist. I truly liked your “I feel like Caligula” poem, for example. It made me think of major players in the field of banking, politics, the military, terrorists, etc. An excellent satirical word cartoon. Keep it up, by all means.

      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        I HATE giving advice, but your writing needs just one thing: a bit more self-discipline in how you serve your thoughts to the public. ***Just my opinion*** But there’s nothing wrong with the thoughts themselves.

      2. charlypriest

        and you are completely right, since i write on the blog just as i comes, i don´t think of it much i just write it so you are completely right, i do know i should put more effort on this, but…..bukt but…. 🙂 that is me

      3. Sha'Tara Post author

        Well, no one can argue with that: you are who you are, and if that works for you, then that’s how it must be. Having decades on you, life has taught me that the me that didn’t work for me at 30, I could change, and I did. There was a very high price to pay, but it was the right move for me. At 30 I remember thinking I was a pretty good person… by comparison to some… but I really wasn’t. Deep down I knew it, enough that suicide kept coming up as my way out. I didn’t know then I could actually change myself, you see. But I did. Doesn’t mean you have to, just thought I’d let you know it can be done. The problem is, it’s the really big things in us we have to change, and that hurts at first, then you get used to it and you continue, and continue and eventually you’re somebody else, somebody you can live with. Good luck, Charly. I’m glad I’m following your blog and reading you thoughts on life. You’re much more than you give yourself credit for, I sense.

  3. Sha'Tara Post author

    “Damnit poem, say what I mean, and mean what I say, will you?” And the Poem answers quietly, “I know you believe you understand what you think I mean but I’m not sure you realize that what you are reading is not what I mean and don’t try to force me to lie about it.”

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes, I do understand. Most of mine go that way, hence why I don’t do much poetry. With my essays and short stories it’s the exact opposite: once started the tempo keeps rising and I have to delete chunks to stay within my own set size limits.


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